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Punctuation for rhetorical tag questions.

 
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jan, 2008 09:04 pm
Roberta wrote:

I, on the other hand, am considering contacting the author of the Gregg manual to open a discussion on this. (He's an old friend.)


I hope you do! I'd be interested in hearing what he has to say.

Interesting thread!
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JTT
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jan, 2008 09:38 pm
kickycan wrote:
I agree with Parados and ebrown. The only place it would be "wrong" is in a grammar textbook. Language and communication are not completely restricted by punctuation. The point is to communicate in the most effective manner, after all. If the point were to be technically "correct," then maybe I could see it differently. But it isn't. So there.


In language, there is no such thing as technically correct, Kicky, quotations or not. The rules for writing/formal language are no better or more accurate rules than those that govern casual/informal speech.

In language there are choices appropriate to given situations dependent on social register/writing versus speech, formal speech versus informal speech, but each is completely correct in its own right.
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kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jan, 2008 10:14 pm
JTT wrote:
In language, there is no such thing as technically correct, Kicky, quotations or not.


What do you mean by this statement? Are you saying that the rules of grammar can be bent and even broken in the interest of communicating an idea most effectively? If so, I agree. Are you saying that right and wrong are dictated by so many different factors and situational stimuli so as to render them incomprehensible and useless in a paradigm wherein efficacy and functionality of communication takes precedence over structure and robust foundational punctiliousness? If so, then again I agree.
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JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jan, 2008 08:24 pm
kickycan wrote:
JTT wrote:
In language, there is no such thing as technically correct, Kicky, quotations or not.


What do you mean by this statement? Are you saying that the rules of grammar can be bent and even broken in the interest of communicating an idea most effectively? If so, I agree. Are you saying that right and wrong are dictated by so many different factors and situational stimuli so as to render them incomprehensible and useless in a paradigm wherein efficacy and functionality of communication takes precedence over structure and robust foundational punctiliousness? If so, then again I agree.


Yup, we're on the same page, Kicky. Smile
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SULLYFISH66
 
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Reply Sun 27 Jan, 2008 07:57 pm
Unless you're Steven White . . .
Laughing
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SULLYFISH66
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Jan, 2008 08:05 pm
Oops - That's Wright.

The Deadpan comedian . . .
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Clary
 
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Reply Fri 1 Feb, 2008 03:30 am
"I'm not afraid of heights. I'm afraid of widths."
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Miklos7
 
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Reply Sun 30 Mar, 2008 12:08 pm
What about deciding by syntax, the deeper map of sentences?

If the syntax indicates a question, use a question mark, no matter whether the sentence is rhetorical or not.

However, if you're speaking or writing creatively, you use whatever punctuation--or lack thereof--you wish. My general rule is to use as little punctuation as the syntax allows me to get away with. I don't like most commas, as they're distractions more often than clarifiers. Have you read Gregor von Rezzori, the novelist, on punctuation? He wrote his last book without commas, except for his introduction:

"These pendantic myrmidons of syntactical order [commas], these irratating traffic cops, served only to temper a text whose curmudgeonliness could be more clearly expressed by the sole means of colon, semicolon, dash, and parentheses. Admittedly the reader is now in danger of losing his bearings in a labyrinth of clauses, and at times will be forced to retrace his steps and begin the work of reading anew. Forced, in other words, to participate actively in the careful crafting of the text. The reward will be a greater intimacy with it."

Author's Note, ANECDOTAGE, Gregor von Rezzori, 1996

I don't think anyone would have the least trouble understanding ANECDOTAGE without commas. Of course, von Rezzori may well have framed his sentences so that no commas were really needed. He is a brilliant novelist/essayist--and a superior crank. I liked SNOWS OF YESTERYEAR, his childhood memoir, the best. He was born in the Bukovina; his parents were crazy minor aristocrats; and his governess was a close friend of Mark Twain. Exotic fellow.
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Chris Tunwell
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jan, 2010 07:48 am
A good question. I have written grammar material of my own along totally untraditional lines called - Directed Pronunciation - and, in this approach, it is essential to use all resources to clearly mark intention. Rhetorical tags are not questions! So we should use an exclamation mark (point) when heavy emphatic inflection is used; otherwise, there is no way of differentiating two entirely seperate forms:

You like chocolate, don't you? -(I don't know)

You like chocolate, don't you! - (I know)

Notice this special gossipy tag - positive/positive ,giving extra exclamation:
So she is seeing Jim, is she! - ( How interesting!)

The use of a period (or full-stop) is not really valuable here because it looks like a punctuation mistake. First, people should start to make the difference between true raised questions to the hammered or pressed tag assertions.
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Brundlefly
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Apr, 2012 12:40 pm
I believe the answer to whether or not its necessary depends on whether or not there's a comma in the sentence, particularly toward the end. For example:

"Can you believe this guy?" (Obviously rhetorical, but this cannot be written without the question mark, because the voice still raises at the end, regardless of how you mean it)

"Can you believe this guy?!!" (Same intention, but with anger)

"You're not from around here, are you?" (A perfect example of when the comma makes all the difference. There's no way to tell if this is rhetorical or not)

"You're not from around here, are you." (Obviously rhetorical)

Point being, I think the comma seems to separate what's right from wrong even more than the question mark itself.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Apr, 2012 01:12 pm
@Brundlefly,
Hi Brundlefly, welcome. Good points.
Brundlefly
 
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Reply Wed 25 Apr, 2012 04:47 am
@sozobe,
Thanks, Sozobe. The more I look at this, the more it sounds right. I had to look it up as well, as I'm in the process of editing a book, and I came across the very same issue.
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